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EYE FOR AN EYE: Cisza: CD
These guys have a definite ‘90s hardcore sound, with the metallic elements, clean and thick production, studio trickery with vocal effects, and industrial crunch, but they are definitely European in sound and delivery; and, thankfully, not the American posturing of that time period. At times, they sound like a cross between La Fraction and Damnation AD: tuneful with a solid punch. Not exactly my favorite style, but not bad, and if you’re into this sort of sound, you will be pleasantly surprised.
–Matt Average (Pasazer)
EXTREME NOISE TERROR: Law of Retaliation: CD
No surprises here from the pioneering godfathers of grindcore: nineteen tracks of blazing, crusty metal hardcore only taking a breath long enough for the mildly disturbing samples at the beginning of most of the tracks on the record. One thing that sets ENT apart from most of their peers is having two lead vocalists and having two variants of the Cookie Monster is fundamentally more interesting than just one. Also, despite the somewhat challenging musical structures and ridiculous tempos, Extreme Noise Terror has a more appealing sense of melody and riffs than the legion of imitators that rose up in their wake. This is an above average release I would recommend to individuals not normally prone to listening to such an extreme form of punk rock music. –Jake Shut
–Guest Contributor (Deep Six)
EX HUMAN: Chicane b/w Detector: 7”
Solid trio playing Dead Boys’ style snot rock’n’roll with good back ups and a bass player who does more than play just the roots of the chords. “Chicane” is catchier, but both songs are first rate. The vocals are good, but a bit lost in the mix; I’d like to hear more of them. But that’s just mincing. It’s a great record for fans of ‘77.
–Billups Allen (Full Breach Kicks)
ENVIRONMENTAL YOUTH CRUNCH: Vicious Fishes: Cassette
This is the only tape I have ever gotten for review, and that fact endeared this band to me greatly. Make no mistake: this is not a home-recorded Memorex, but an actual, factual tape with the band name printed on the cassette and everything. How often do you see that? I was delighted when I popped the tape in and found it was actually good to boot. Solid, no-frills, shouty punk with a rootsy sensibility, if not an actual folk sound. The insert from their label calls them folk punk but I wouldn’t go that far. There’s a bit of that early Against Me! flavor, but this is way more melodic and happy. They cover the Friends theme song, for pete’s sake. And it works.
–Sarah Shay (Dead Tank)
END OF A YEAR: Self-titled: 7”
End Of A Year continues to be a shining example of what used to be amazing about hardcore. They’re songwriters, plain and simple, with lyrics that go beyond the used up HC topics of friendship, betrayal, or heart break. These aren’t a bunch of glammed-up, emo kids playing watered-down death metal with breakdowns… these are some true grit musicians writing about life. If you crossed the Revolution Summer sound with a trace of early Meat Puppets, then you’ll get a sense of what they’re doing. Fans of their last LP Sincerely will dig on this record. The trippy cover art was drawn by Erol Otus, illustrator of the early Dungeons & Dragons franchise.
–Evan Katz (Deathwish, Deathwishinc.com)
EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING: 'Demon’s Demands” b/w “I’m Guilty”: 7” Primary Colours, the Eddy Current full-length on Goner, is an album, not just a haphazard sequence of songs. By that I mean all the pieces fit, and being so, the picture is much bigger and more complex than individual songs. The song sequence and where the album breaks between the two sides are nicely calculated. It’s like they pick you up for a journey on the first side, buckle you in, and take you on for a great-ass ride with fascinating scenery rolling by the windows. This 7”, if placed somewhere in the middle of that record (I’ll leave it up to the experts to decide where), would fit perfectly (assuming that the vinyl could handle the length without compromising fidelity). The two songs on this 7” clock in a total of over eleven minutes of music. By themselves, they’re a more difficult introduction to this great Australian band. Imagine two slower, heavy-pedaling, uphill bicycle rides instead of one, hitting the peak, then zooming down in a sprint on the B-side (in a Velvet Underground meets The Saints way).
–Todd Taylor (Iron Lung)
EMOS, THE: Quicker Than Khan: CD
Crude, sloppy, rock’n’roll punk and I mostly mean that as a compliment. The songs are good, raging fun and show a lot of potential. Despite this being punk world, I have to complain about excessively rough edges, where these folks need to step up their musicianship a little bit or put the time in on a couple more takes in the studio so the rhythm section does not occasionally veer off into musical trainwreck territory. Their crude and silly lyrics tend to match the musical attack by this trio from northwest England. These folks have some decent songs and a lot of heart so I am interested to see how this band progresses. –Jake Shut
–Guest Contributor (Padded Cell, paddedcellrecords.co.uk)
DRUNKDRIVER: Knife Day b/w January 2nd: EP
Two-song EP by this New York trio. “Knife Day” starts off with a very deranged-sounding rant followed by total audio destruction via a blown-out guitar cab and a drummer bent on wearing out his drum skins after each use. “January 2nd” is the real barn burner on this record. It’s the perfect soundtrack to a Voltron-like giant robot snorting a line of coke and then going on a destruction spree right before turning his sword on himself. No other kind of information on this record other than the band’s name and the song titles further adds to their mysterious charm.
–Juan Espinosa (Fan Death)
DRUGLORDS OF THE AVENUES: Sings Songs: CD
Johnny “Peebucks” Bonnel is back with another side project that’s familiar and strange. Faster and less folksy than Filthy Thieving Bastards, though their version of “Drug Lords of the Avenues” on Pappy Was a Pistol is virtually the same as the one that appears here, only muddier with more feedback. Good old fashioned Bay Area punk rock’n’roll.
–Jim Ruland (Red Scare, myspace.com/redscarepunk)
DIVISION, THE: Mantras: CD
When I was in college, my friends and I used to get together on Sunday nights and have tea and sit and listen to Hearts of Space, an ambient radio show on NPR. Hippies maybe, but it was always a relaxing, mellow way to end the weekend while also listening to some creative, droney, space music. It seems as though Mantras could easily fit in with that type of crowd. The Division is the one-man act of Chicago musician Matthew Schultz who has done time in both Lab Report and Pigface. Eight of the nine songs on this album clock in at exactly six minutes and two seconds; the last track is exactly six minutes. Given the background of the artist, one might expect a little more aggressive, abrasive sound but, instead, the music has an ambient tone that also utilizes some tribal beats and, more importantly, a number of instruments and styles of playing most identifiable from other cultures. In Indian religions mantras are deemed able to produce spiritual transformation. I don’t know if that was Schultz’s intention, but given the right setting (dark room, comfortable seat, a cup of tea, some incense), the tracks on Mantras might very well take you to a different place.
–Kurt Morris (Lens)
DISGUSTER: Not So Sweet: CD
The hit here is “Bloodbath,” with its catchy chorus and vaguely Stones-gone-punk feel. The rest is all rock’n’punk swagger executed well enough to warrant more than one spin
–Jimmy Alvarado (Zodiac Killer)
DETOURNEMENT: Screaming Response: CDEP
Has members of Lifetime. I’m sorry, did you need me to go on? HAS MEMBERS OF FUCKING LIFETIME. Okay, well, no, it’s not a Dan Yemin project or anything, it’s the drummer Scott. The music is a bit everywhere: the first two tracks made this seem like a youth crew-esque release, but later tracks show more of a Swingin’ Utters kind of sound, then some other songs are closer to an older Bouncing Souls sound. It’s cool, if you like your music schizophrenia flavored.
–Bryan Static (Chunksaah/Pirate Press)
DESGUACE: Yo Me Se Cuidar: LP
You know what’s great about punk? Well, there’s a lot, but one thing is the fact that there really are a ton of awesome records out there by bands you’ve never heard of. Take Desguace, for example. You’ve never heard of them, right? I hadn’t before I got this record. I never would have known they existed. Still, this record is some killer shit. Its awesomeness is not subject to debate. This is vicious and fast. All of the lyrics are in Spanish, but that doesn’t matter. It’s the definition of punk. You could buy it and share it with your friends—none of whom have heard of this band either—and they’d all agree that this is the real deal. Or you could buy it and it could be your little secret. Your call.
–MP Johnson (Trabuc)
DEEP SLEEP: Three Things at Once: CD
I’d heard this name from a bunch of my other friends, but never really checked them out, for whatever reason. Modern dudes taking a strong influence from ‘80s hardcore (Circle Jerks, Adolescents, etc.) that extended from the Descendents to more of the Cruz records roster (See: Title of this). I also like the convenience of having a bunch of other records in one nice little package. Neat.
–Joe Evans III (Grave Mistake/Wallride)
DEAD GHOSTS / SMITH WESTERNS: Split: 7”
The Dead Ghosts’ “She Likes It” is a low-fi droner in the vein of the Cramps playing Ricky Nelson covers. The vocals are swimming in effects to the point of being inaudible. I like it, but I hope it isn’t all they do. The Smith Westerns have the same dynamic in “Tonight.” Both songs have a warped take on simple ‘50s pop riffs.
–Billups Allen (Bachelor)
DAYLIGHT ROBBERY: Red Tape EP: 7”
Chicago rootsy rock with a thick, oozing film of gritty punk rock and dual male/female vocals. Reminiscent of early X but with a guitar that fancies the hardcore kids and not the country dweebs. The single song on the B side follows through at a much slower pace yet attacks with the same heart and blunt emotion, still retaining the kiss-and-kill promise.
–Daryl Gussin (Residue, firstname.lastname@example.org)
CROSS STICHED EYES: Coranach: CD
Think Rudimentary Peni on a heavy Killing Joke bender and you’re on the right track with this one. Normally, a band attempting such an endeavor would be begging to have their ears slapped back ‘cause, let’s be honest here, those are some King Kong-sized Underoos to attempt to fill, but they more than manage to hold their own. Maybe it’s ‘cause the lineup includes some folks who were actual contemporaries of those bands (current drummer is the Subhumans’ Trotsky, for instance), maybe it’s because they’ve somehow managed to tap into the same secret formula Peni and Killing Joke have been jealously guarding for three decades. Whatever it is, not only are Cross Stitched Eyes nudging a comfortable space for themselves on a very narrow shelf, they do it by owning, instead of aping, the sound. Put more succinctly, this is the best gloomy anarcho-punk inspired band I’ve heard in a good while.
–Jimmy Alvarado (Alternative Tentacles)
CRIMSON GHOSTS: Earth EP: CDEP
Boston’s Crimson Ghosts’ shtick is all-instrumental surf covers of Misfits songs. In less capable hands, it’d merely be amusing, yet crumble on repeated listens. But in wizened punk rockers’ hands who can play their instruments incredibly, it’s addictive and oddly soothing. I think there’s a great opportunity for subversion with the Crimson Ghosts. Say the band played a state fair or an art in the park show with kids in strollers in attendance. They could totally get away with “Skulls.” I mean, they’re not the ones screaming “Collect the heads of little girls and put ‘em on my wall!” it’d be the Misfits fans in the audience. And the suburban parents would tap along in reverb-drenched delight none the wiser. Thankfully, I recently got to see these dudes play live and it further cemented my appreciation of them. Two things: 1.) Everyone in the band was singing, loudly, along to the songs, but none of them were mic’d, so it gave everyone in attendance the opportunity to channel their own inner Danzig. And I’ll take a room of one hundred Danzig lovers over the Danzig Danzig any day. 2.) With the absence of a microphone and both the band and the audience getting their “Whoa Oh!”s on, there were several almost-full-mouth, carp-like kisses. Let’s hear it for breaking down the barriers! Highly recommended.
–Todd Taylor (Self-released, Necro-Tone, myspace.com/crimsonghosts)
COUNTERCLOCK WISE, THE: Wind ‘Em Up to Shut ‘Em Down: LP
With co-ed harmonies and lightning speed licks of the banjo, Counterclock Wise delivers a consistent record of folk punk and blues. The male vocals remind me of the Pine Hill Haints and transport me to a porch in the backwoods, while “Jo Jo Song” takes it down a notch with softer female lead vocals. The result of their harmonizing sounds like X but with a banjo. The chorus of “A Ghost of Future’s Past” is a great example of that. The female vocals become eerie ghost calls invoking a spooky element like a rural graveyard at midnight. Some of the best stuff I’ve heard this year. Recommended.
–Kristen K (Arkam, myspace.com/arkamrecords)
COCKSPARRER: Guilty as Charged 2009 and Two Monkeys 2009: CD
I wanna call these reissues of two Cocksparrer albums originally released back in the mid-‘90s, but according to the press sheet, they’re both “remastered and rerecorded,” which makes explaining them a bit more problematic and no doubt why they have the “2009” addendum in their titles. Not owning either’s previous incarnation, I do have a number of the tunes on the Bloody Minded best-of disc that came out about the same time and they do sound a bit better mixed here. I guess it doesn’t really matter what they are so long as they are good, and they are that. Across both one will find numerous now-hits—“A.U.,” “Because You’re Young,” “Tough Guys,” “I Feel a Death Coming On,” and more—plus the usual odds and sods the Captain tacks on to make the discs that much more crucial. Good stuff all around from one of the finest and most consistent punk bands ever, however the discs are ultimately classified.
–Jimmy Alvarado (Captain Oi)
CLOCK HANDS STRANGLE : Distaccati: CD
I really liked this album because it’s bouncy with gloom, Walt Whitman references, and random trumpets. Think Dramarama, early Modest Mouse, and Delta Spirit, which is a great band from San Diego. The lyrics are really good little stories with a very well-recorded soundtrack. This album is easy and fun to get lost in, creating an audible space in which to hide from your recurrent reality.
–Rene Navarro (Chocolate Lab)
CHINESE: The Conquest of Tomorrow Today: CD
The tricky thing about instrumentals is you’re working at a deficit when you subtract an integral part to—for lack of a better term—the pop song template, in this case vocals/lyrics. By doing so, you have to find some way to compensate by making sure some other part is picking up the slack. The most obvious way is to write a song that is so compelling, so outstanding, so goddamned good that the audience won’t notice the missing pieces. This is no small feat when you’re talking about a single, but if you’re gonna try and tackle a full-length, you better have Charlie friggin’ Parker in your band. Sadly, these guys have no Parker equivalent, nor, it appears, anything to compensate for the aforementioned deficits. What they do have is a collection of tunes that sound like up-tempo quasi-stoner/space rock anthems that never quite get off the ground.
–Jimmy Alvarado (Whoa! Boat)
CHARLIE & THE MOONHEARTS / TEEN ANGER: split : 12”
Charlie & the Moonhearts make no bones about playing ‘60s-inspired rock’n’roll from the same local scene that has produced acts such as Ty Segall/Tradional Fools, Audacity, Thee Makeout Party, and many, many more. Lots of soul, lots of rhythm. It’s garagey, it’s surfy, and it’s time-tested rock’n’roll that’s produced for pool parties and other assorted good times. Teen Anger hail from Toronto and the music is much more frigid. While still heavy on the ‘60s influence, they twist the sound into a damaged, curdled knot. Not as abrasive as some, less approachable than most. Still good, reverbed-to-hell rock.
–Daryl Gussin (Telephone Explosion)
CAPITAL: Blind Faith: 7”
More times than not when I read a review that describes something as “melodic hardcore” it doesn’t end up sounding what I expected. The first thing I think is Kid Dynamite. Jason had melody. And it definitely was hardcore. Capital follow suit. Hardcore without a doubt, and melody with enough of a presence to not sound too whiny. Two originals and a Dag Nasty cover.
–Daryl Gussin (Iron Pier / Just A Audial)
CANADIAN RIFLE: Visibility Zero: LP
Hang in with this one. Friends and I just finished silk screening 150 posters and we’re in the process of hand-stamping two thousand record labels. In the middle of those processes, you, as the stamper or ink-puller, can see the little imperfections, especially when directly compared to a particularly nice screen print or stamp impression. But the person who’s going to get a copy of what we’re making only sees one, maybe two copies of what was made by hand. The maker sees the entire landscape and can have a better eye for separating the runts from the studs. The receiver gets a snapshot, a freeze frame of a larger motion. On to band fandom. I do believe I own every piece of vinyl that Canadian Rifle’s released. The very first 7” had two guitars: one sad, one happy. Since Canadian Rifle are from Chicago, the instant comparison for me would be Ben Weasel’s perma-whine counterbalanced with Jughead’s ray-of-sunshine guitar work. And that’s what I thought was particularly nice about Canadian Rifle’s first 7”. “You dipped your happy into my sad! Take your smile out of my frown! I know, let’s celebrate melancholia and ennui! (The sound of a missed high five. Charlie Brown zig-zag mouth.)” But, let’s suppose this was Canadian Rifle’s first piece of released music and it changes a bit. From the topicality of the lyrics (microbes in sponges, swallowing landfill, sickness), the gruffness of the voice, and, well, the handwriting, Off With Their Heads comparisons wouldn’t be too far off the mark, except that OWTH have equal numbers of claymores pointed at themselves and the audience and Canadian Rifle seem content with the existential fact that we’re all fucked regardless. And so I took the LP around the track several more times. Oh, you sneaky Petes. On several songs (if not all; I’m not a sound engineer), there are multiple guitar tracks—lead and rhythm—and sometimes, they weave, bob, and buzz around like bees in flight. Really nice; it works great in “Live Infected.” As talented as guitarist Jake Levee is, I don’t think he has four arms, and Canadian Rifle is a three piece so, in the studio, two guitars it is. Makes me wonder how it’d come across live… Synopsis: Knowing their legacy, this LP is not as instantly blinding as the interrogation light of the first 7”, but it has plenty of warmth, heat, and charms of its own.
–Todd Taylor (Residue/Squirrel Heart)
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